Monday, 13 May 2013

Book Review - This is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Vegan Ecology

This recent book by Will Anderson offers a devastating critique of the human impact on animals and the biosphere. Using careful arguments and references, the author leaves no room for half measures: we must rapidly wind down animal agriculture, hunting, fishing and all other unnecessary uses of animals. This will allow ecosystems to begin to recover from the downward spiral that has been caused by animal agriculture and human predation.

This is an ambitious book spanning a number of topics. Although there is detailed discussion around preserving and restoring ecosystems, the author also emphasises the suffering that individual animals endure at the hands of humans, and asks us to develop more empathy for sentient beings.

There is a consideration of traditional hunting cultures, so often given as an excuse by others not to embark on becoming vegan. There are many nuances to this issue that Anderson covers very well. The author also criticises international aid organisations for promoting livestock agriculture as a way out of poverty.

Anderson is particularly critical of the boutique (locavore) animal farming movement, pointing out that it is steeped in green-washing, and what he calls “humane washing” – creating an impression of care for animals, whilst cruelty is at the heart of it all.

People who are already vegan don't get a free pass either – everyone must look deeply into their purchases to ensure they use resources wisely, are fair trade and cruelty free. It is argued that everyone is effectively a predator through the purchases we make and the space that we take up. We need to be aware of this and minimise the harm caused. In addition, there needs to be a global population decline.

The author concludes with a hopeful prescription of 7 things that must necessarily develop in order for the planet to have a future. These are all things that individuals can implement in their daily lives, central to which is a vegan lifestyle. After all the bad news there is optimism for change. We get the impression that the world of the future will look very different from what it is now.

The e-book version has hyperlinked end notes so that further reading can be undertaken if desired. There is a wealth of information in these references. I hope one day the book will be translated into other languages.

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